In a somewhat rose-tinted report, research firm Jupiter sees 2002 set to be dominated by an explosion in the take-up of broadband access, digital television and Napster-style music portals.
Jupiter predicts a massive growth in the number of broadband users throughout Europe, which will be great news to e-commerce and competition minister Douglas Alexander, who's been championing the benefits of broadband since he took over from Patricia Hewitt this year.
Not all the actual evidence agrees with Jupiter's or the government's outlook, but Jupiter predicts a three-fold growth in broadband take-up in the UK in 2002. This sounds a lot, but considering only one percent of the population has so far signed up, even three percent will still leave the UK trailing behind Sweden and Belgium's current numbers (12 and 18 percent respectively).
"In 2002 we expect to see technology playing an important part in the development of the market, as well as a continued increase in the number of consumers going on to the internet," said Mark Mulligan, data analyst at Jupiter.
Despite this growth Jupiter does not think broadband will reach 'critical mass' (15 percent of homes) until 2006. Although the UK has been very slow to take up broadband, we currently have one of the highest penetrations of digital TV in the world.
Research firm IDC agrees with that interactive TV is set to grow — it predicts interactive TV will reach 70 percent of homes by the end of 2002.
"The development of interactive TV differs from the other technologies in targeting a wide demographic base of households and displaying incremental growth," said Jason Armitage, senior research analyst with IDC's European Consumer Devices program.
The demise of online music-swap site Napster has left the field clear for a horde of new file-swapping portals. The popularity of such music sharing sites has continued to flourish, which Jupiter predicts will continue well into next year.
IDC is a member of the IDG group, as is PC Advisor.